Academic Support Services
Although the headlines typically focus on the Mountaineers' athletic accomplishments, WVU student-athletes also make noteworthy strides in the classroom every semester. Two people who strongly support those efforts are athletic director Oliver Luck and associate athletic director Terri Howes, who, along with the WVU coaching staff, have made academics a departmental priority.
While considerable support is available to all student-athletes, the department's administrators, coaches and support staff emphasize the responsibility of each person for his or her own learning and academic achievement. Each student is ultimately responsible for regularly attending classes, studying and passing exams.
Academic assistance is available to all student-athletes through the office of Garrett Ford, associate athletic director for student services. His staff includes Sandy Cole-DeMent, Paul Downey, Donnie Tucker, Ehren Green, and Erica Wycherley along with three graduate assistants. Together they oversee study hall activities and assist student-athletes with the organization of their course schedules. In addition, the student services staff works closely with the compliance office and coaches to monitor prospective and current student-athlete’s academic progress in accordance with NCAA bylaws. Ford's staff also works closely with the University Advising Services Center academic advisor for student-athletes, Mark Hanselman, He is responsible for providing academic guidance for freshmen and sophomore student-athletes who have not declared for an academic major. All other students who have declared an academic major, (which must be done by the beginning of the junior year according to NCAA regulations), are advised by faculty in their respective academic departments. WVU student-athletes have been provided the privilege of early class registration during the Fall and Spring semesters.
Monitoring Academic Activities and Progress
Throughout the academic year, department staff members keep a careful record of each student-athlete's academic progress. Class and study hall attendance is regularly checked. Periodic grade reports are obtained from faculty and Admissions and Records. Student-athletes and their coaches are kept appraised of each person's academic progress throughout each semester.
For those student-athletes who would benefit from additional academic assistance in specific subjects, individual tutorial services are available by request through the student services staff members. Tutors are typically graduate students or high achieving undergraduate students knowledgeable in specific areas of study. Student-athletes may also receive tutoring assistance through the WVU Learning Centers at (304) 293-2316.
WVU has a pair of study centers that student-athletes may use throughout the day and into the evening. The Andy Clark Academic Support Center is located in the Puskar Center at Mountaineer Field. The center houses 20 computers, including four new terminals and two networked printers in more than 10,000 square feet of study space. The center is staffed by Ms. Cole-DeMent and Mr. Donnie Tucker. Individual study carrels and areas for group study provide a comfortable learning environment for student-athletes. The Clark site's companion center is the Coliseum Academic Performance Center located on the second floor of the WVU Coliseum and is overseen by Mr. Downey, Ms. Green and Ms. Wycherley. The Coliseum site is similarly equipped with 52 computers, 2 networked printers, 4 individual and group study areas, and a conference room. Both study centers are open six days a week with flexible hours tailored to make the most of a student-athlete's often limited free time. Student-athletes may drop in either center between classes or after practice in evenings. Currently a biometric finger printing system located in the Coliseum Academic Performance Center keeps track of each student-athletes completed study hall hours per week.
During the second week of classes, freshmen are enrolled in mandatory study halls, monitored by Ford and his staff. Those who do well academically during the first semester are given the option of attending study hall sessions in the second semester. However, is the student-athlete's GPA drops below a certain mark, she or he must continue to attend study hall sessions.
Academic Support Impact
The academic support provided to our student-athletes appears to have a positive effect on overall student-athlete academic achievement. Last year, more than one-third of all student-athletes achieved at least a 3.0 grade-point average, (a B or better), and earned a place on the Athletic Director's Academic Honor Roll. During the past three years, numerous student-athletes have earned Academic All-America, all-conference or all-district honors.
West Virginia University's graduation rate for student-athletes receiving scholarship aid has averaged in excess of 50 percent over the past five year. In comparison, the graduation rate for WVU's general student body is approximately 55 percent. For the 1997-1998 to 2000-2001 cohort, the Federal Graduation Rate for student-athletes is 2% higher than all student s at WVU; 57% to 55% respectively.
To insure that every student-athlete has the best possible opportunity to be successful in college, contact with the academic support services staff begins as soon as a recruit makes a commitment to attend WVU. According to Mr. Garrett Ford: "Before the student-athletes arrive in the fall, we know a lot about the degree of their academic preparation, and have identified those students who will likely benefit from additional assistance."
During the summer prior to the start of classes, incoming student-athletes are strongly encourage to attend freshman orientation sessions offered for all incoming WVU students. Summer orientation is a program where students can learn more about the campus, the Morgantown community, and most importantly, can pre-register for classes. During pre-registration, all incoming student-athletes obtain guidance on scheduling their courses to help them get on track early in their degree programs.
Student-Athlete Orientation: Sport and Exercise Psychology (SEP) 170
All freshmen and transfer student-athletes are strongly encouraged enroll in an orientation class specifically designed to meet the needs of Division I student-athletes called "CHAMPS/Life Skills" (CHallenging Athletes Minds for Personal Success). This program is part of WVU's CHAMPS/LifeSkills program. Topics such as adjustment to college and intercollegiate athletics, time management, stress management, budgeting, and career development are discussed. In addition, speakers from campus are invited to lead discussions on health issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, drug testing, sports nutrition, and sexual health and responsibility. The graded class is offered for one credit each fall and spring.
Degree Completion Program
For a variety of reasons, some student-athletes do not graduate by the time their athletic eligibility has ended. Nevertheless, help and support is still available. A post-eligibility program was created to give qualified students who are close to graduating an opportunity to complete their degrees. Since the program's creation, dozens of students have participated, with an overall success rate of greater than 80 percent. In fact, many student-athletes from all sports participated in the post-eligibility program last year. Contact Garrett Ford at (304) 293-2008 ext. 7564 for more information.
Former Mountaineer athletes are returning to school at the invitation of WVU to complete work on their degrees, some after as many as 15 years after they first came to school. In 1992, under the direction of Mr. Ford, West Virginia joined the growing list of schools that are a part of an NCAA-sponsored consortium. Similar to the post-eligibility program, the consortium provides former student-athletes a chance to continue to work toward their degrees. In addition, the closely screened consortium requires participants to be involved in community-related activities.
Consortium students are often much older former student-athletes who left the University to pursue professional sports or business careers, but who now wish to return to earn their degrees.
Athletic Director's Academic Honor Roll
Implemented in 1989, the Athletic Director's Academic Honor Roll was created to recognize students who have achieved a GPA average of 3.0 or better. A 4.0 club and a team award for the highest GPA were also established.
Since the program began in 1989, nearly 2,000 student-athletes have earned a place on the honor roll. A banquet is held each spring semester to recognize all honor roll members and award winners.
Learning Disability Services
What is a "learning disorder" (LD)? Briefly, an LD is a psychological disorder that usually develops in childhood or adolescence. There are several categories of LDs which are diagnosed when an individual's achievement on individually administered, standardized tests is much lower than expected for the individual's age, educational level and level of intelligence. Learning disorders are neurological disorders that interfere with a person's ability to store, process, or produce information, and create a "gap" between one's ability and performance. Individuals with learning disorder are usually of average to above-average intelligence.
Learning disorders can affect a person's ability to read, write, speak, do math, and affect social skills. As one might expect some LDs can have an impact on sport performance. LDs are often not easily recognized, and are not the same as mental retardation or behavioral disorders. Learning disorders cannot be cured, and do not go away over time. However, students can learn to compensate and overcome areas of weakness.
The prevalence of such disorders in the general population ranges from 2 to 10 percent, depending on the nature of assessments and diagnostic definitions. Several learning disorders exist and the faces of these disorders often overlap. Clearly, the language surrounding learning disorders can be somewhat complicated and confusing. The most common terms for learning disorders include Reading Disorder, Mathematics Disorder, Disorder of Written Language, and Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Learning Disorders Assistance for WVUIA Athletes
If you are WVU athlete or are a WVUIA staff member who has any incoming or current athletes who have a documented history of learning disorders or suspected LD (e.g., an individual educational plan in high school, significantly different verbal and quantitative/math scores on the SAT/ACT, a current prescription for AD/HD medication), please feel free contact me about a referral for a brief screening interview within WVUIA in the Coliseum. This screening may lead to testing and possible accommodations through WVU's Office of Disability Services. http://disabilityservices.wvu.edu/
If testing appears appropriate as a result of screening, we can make timely arrangements to find an open appointment at the WVU Carruth Center for Psychological and Psychiatric Services/Mind Fit - should the athlete want to be evaluated. http://well.wvu.edu/ccpps These appointments are usually taken up very rapidly starting in August. A screening through this WVUIA Coliseum office, a satellite site of Well WVU Carruth Center, gets athletes into the Carruth administrative records system, is often convenient for athletes, and typically saves time.
The fees for the various tests offered are listed below. They may increase over time. All fees will be posted directly to athlete's student account.
• LD test Battery: $250.00, 4-5 hours
• Combined Batteries: $420.00 (requires two testing days)
*** The costs associated with testing have been previously supported by the BIGEAST Special Opportunity Fund. I am not sure what if any support may be available in our new Big 12 conference to reimburse those who are evaluated.
Since students attend WVU from many different places, and because many schools and school systems differ in their criteria and definitions of learning disorders, it is essential that each incoming athlete requesting assistance for diagnosed learning disabilities have a careful review of his or her academic history. A qualified professional (typically a licensed psychologist with specialty training in this area), must determine eligibility for special assistance and the range of potential services that are available to accommodate the student-athlete's unique needs. A letter or diagnosis from a family physician or school counselor is typically insufficient evidence to warrant accommodations.
In order to perform an accurate assessment, the reviewer will need: 1) an evaluation conducted within the past 2 years by a licensed psychologist with specialty training in LD's; and 2) a copy of the report and all test scores. Without this information, a diagnosis cannot be made and accommodations may not be available to your athlete at WVU. "Accommodations" are usually provided to people who have a diagnosis. A diagnosis of an LD is however not a guarantee of accommodations through ODS.
Although there are no separate general classes per se for students with learning disabilities, support (e.g., trained tutors) is available through WVU Office of Disability Services (304) 293-6700, which is located in the Mountain Lair. One current course, however, Counseling 493H is available to support students with learning problems. It meets Wednesdays 5-6:15 p.m. in Oglebay Hall.
A partial list of some other services for all WVU students with a diagnosed learning disability or suspected learning disability includes:
. Diagnostic, psychological/educational evaluations
. Personal counseling
. Suggestions for academic counseling
. Special arrangements for taking classroom tests (extra time)
. Liaisons between faculty and students with learning disabilities
. Referral service to the WVU Reading, Writing and Math labs
The Well WVU MindFit program is available to WVU students through the WVU Carruth Center. MindFit is an comprehensive multidisciplinary program for the diagnosis and treatment of WVU students struggling with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other learning-related difficulties. http://mindfit.well.wvu.edu/ A self-guided ADHD screening is available on that web site for athletes.
I am happy to consult with you about learning disorder concerns, as well as other confidential psychological services available to WVUIA athletes for personal, academic and career development issues. See http://www.msnsportsnet.com/staffDirectory.cfm?type=AD2&adCatID=12
Feel free to call me at (304) 293-7062 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My office is located in Room 275-a of the Coliseum.
Dr. Ed Etzel,
Licensed Psychologist, WVUIA
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